Shirley Temple

Short Stories

Shirley type children's stories

(Picture: Globe Theatre, Universal Studios, Hollywood)

Background music: "Little Shirley Temple",
©1935, Sherman, Clay & Co,
Computer adaptation ©2001 L West

See Stories: Little Missy, Poor Little Rag Doll, Little Miss Hollywood, The Little Major, The Littlest Diplomat, The Littlest Sailor, The Littlest Fire Fighter

LITTLE MISSY - By Rex W. Clark, Feb 21, 2004
(Dedicated to Shirley Temple Black, and the loving memory of Elizabeth Sanker)

Chapter 1 - Discovered

In a dance studio in suburbia Los Angeles in the year of our Lord 2002, fifteen little girls ranging in ages from three to seven were practicing new dance steps under the direction of the daughter of the founder of the studio, founded just after the turn of the twentieth century with a host of previous students whose own children attended. The list of students now spanning ten decades, many went on to be successful actors, and actresses, whose pictures lined the walls of the dance studio, Doris Waters and assistant, Julia Tibbins had been contacted by Jimmy Cramer, a talent scout from the advertising department of a not so well known children’s clothing company, was holding auditions for a series of television commercials, featuring an adorable little girl to sing, and dance her way into the hearts of Americans while making there new product a house hold name.

The day before the scheduled auditions, Doris had instructed the mothers of the students to have their dance costumes cleaned, and ironed, however one student five year old Ashley Harris had missed classes due to a doctor’s appointment. Ashley came dressed in an adorable outfit that melted the heart of Mr. Cramer. He watched the girls as they danced but Ashley kept catching his eye. Every time Mr. Cramer would look at her Ashley would smile. Mr. Cramer was so impressed by her energy spunk her cute smile and that adorable outfit. The other girls were also adorable but Ashley was the one who melted his heart, she’s the one, (the decision was very easy), she would do for Americans what she did for him.

Jimmy stopped in front of Ashley, who stopped dancing as Jimmy warmly smiled and asked, “What’s your name sweetie pie?” Ashley a little nervous smiled as she replied “My name is Ashley Harris what’s yours?” Jimmy took Ashley’s hand into his and asked, “Ashley could I speak with you and your mother privately?” Ashley a little curious asked, “Am I in trouble for not wearing my dance costume?” Jimmy laughed a little and said, “No sweetheart, I have a very important matter I would like to discuss with you and your mother?” Ashley asked, “Honor bright?” Jimmy curiously asked, “What does honor bright mean?” Ashley replied, “Honor bright means the absolute truth.” Jimmy asked, “Who taught you that?” Ashley replied, “My mommy did she said that when she wanted me to tell the absolute truth she would say ‘honor bright and I knew I was supposed to tell the whole truth.” Jimmy said, “Honor bright that you are not in trouble I just want to speak to you and your mother.” Ashley let out a long sigh of relief and then said, “I thought I was in trouble for not wearing my dance costume today.

Jimmy looked up at Doris as he asked, “Mrs. Waters could we use your office I would like to speak with Ashley and her mother in private?” Mrs. Waters replied, “Certainly you take as long as you need.” Jimmy stood up and while taking Ashley’s hand introduced himself to Ashley’s mother, “I’m Jimmy Cramer talent scout of the advertising department for Little Missy children’s wear.” Ashley’s mother held her hand out as she politely replied, “Pleased to meet you I’m Brenda Harris, Ashley’s mother.” Jimmy motioned with his other hand to the. office as he said, “Let’s go into Mrs. Water’s office and talk about an exciting opportunity for your little girl.”

Chapter 2 - Strictly Business

Jimmy Brenda and Ashley went into the small office where Jimmy closed the door and sat at a desk while Brenda and Ashley sat down in the two chairs in front of the desk Jimmy smiled as he said, “I came here to hold an audition for a certain little girl with the right look and talent to appear in a series of television commercials advertising a new line of little girl’s clothing for Little Missy children’s wear. As you can tell by the name that we only make little girl’s clothing so we are looking for the right girl who would sing and dance her way into the hearts of Americans while making Little Missy a house hold name.” Brenda now really surprised asked, “What does this have to do with Ashley?” Jimmy replied, “When I saw that cute smile spunk all that energy and that adorable outfit I knew I had found just the right little girl for this project.”

Brenda really curious and excited asked, ”Just how many commercials will Ashley be doing for your company?” Jimmy replied, “Ashley would have to do a screen test to see how she would look in a commercial then if the screen test is good we would start out with four a month for the first two months and if sales show a good increase we’d then discuss further options for Ashley.” Brenda then asked, “How much would Ashley be earning for doing all these commercials?” Jimmy replied, “We’d pay her $5000 per commercial each would be five minutes long consisting of a song and dance routine. Each would feature a different song and dance routine depending on the occasion the clothing would be advertised for. As an example for school an upbeat most popular kid in school routine then at the beach have a beach boy’s song and dance routine then for formal wear have a routine depicting her as all eyes on her centre of attention song and dance routine etc.”

Brenda then asked, “After the two months you find that sales have been what you had expected would she go on making commercials or would you continue to use the same ones she had already made?” Jimmy smiled as he replied, “I think sales will go through the roof, Ashley would continue to make commercials and her pay would also increase, so what do you think about Ashley being our Little Missy?” Ashley turned her head slightly to the side as she looked at Jimmy and asked, “Honor bright?” Jimmy laughed as he held up his hand as he replied, “Honor bright!” Ashley then looked at her mother with excitement written all over her face. Brenda looked at Jimmy’s who was also just as excited then asked, “Ok when do we get started?” Ashley jumped in her chair as she said, “Goody!” At the same time Jimmy clapped his hands together one time as he said, “Great be at the studio eight sharp Monday morning, in the mean time I’ll get the screenwriters and choreographers set up for the first commercial.” Ashley really excited asked, “What about the,” She made a cute face, “You know?” Jimmy replied, “Oh you must mean the screen test.” Ashley excitedly replied, “Yea that one!” Jimmy pretending to be whispering as if to hide a secret, winked and said, “Don’t tell anyone about the screen test.” Ashley made a cute face as she said, “I won’t tell anyone!”

Jimmy then pushed a contract across the desk for Brenda to sign. She signed it then had Ashley scribble her name on the contract then handed it back to Jimmy. He then stood up as he held out his hand as he said while he and Ashley shook hands, “Welcome to Little Missy I’ll be seeing you Monday.” He then wrote on the back of a business card and gave it to Brenda as he said, “The address to the studio is on the back just tell the guard at the gate who you are and he’ll direct you to the studio.” Ashley curiously asked, “What do I wear?” Jimmy replied, “It doesn’t matter we’ll have everything you need Monday.” Brenda shook Jimmy’s hand as she said, “Thank you very much for choosing Ashley you won’t be sorry.” Jimmy said, “The only people who will be sorry will be our competitors.” Jimmy almost forgetting reached into his briefcase and pulled out a notebook and a cassette tape then handed it to Brenda as he said, “I’ve highlighted Ashley’s lines the song she’ll sing is on the tape have her memorize both, the dance steps we’ll teach Monday.”

Brenda and Ashley left the office just as Doris and Julia were just finishing up with that day’s lesson. They dismissed the class then came over to Brenda and Ashley as both of them curiously asked, “Did you get the part?” Ashley full of excitement replied, “You bet!!” Julia pointed to all of the pictures on the wall as she said to Ashley, “Some day your picture will be on that wall along with all of the other successful stars.” One of which was a very famous child star from the great depression era who lifted the spirits of a nation and touched the hearts of many people around the world as she continues to do so today. Ashley looked into the picture of the adorable little girl with a head of bouncing curls, gasped and then said, “Oh my goodness!!!”

Chapter 3 - Bed Time

Sunday night after Ashley’s bath Brenda was going over Ashley’s lines with her just before tucking her into bed when Ashley asked, “Can we practice my lines and my song just one more time?” Brenda replied, “Three times is plenty now let’s say your prayers and you get some sleep we have to get up really early if we are to get to the studio before eight..” Ashley and Brenda both knelt beside Ashley’s bed as she began to pray, “Dear God please let me be really good when they film my commercial at the studio tomorrow and please bless Mr. Cramer Mrs. Waters Mrs. Tibbins my mother and most of all tell my daddy I love him and I miss him Amen.”

Ashley climbed into bed as Brenda asked, “You miss daddy a lot?” Ashley replied, “Sometimes I dream that I’m playing with him, last night I dreamed I was sitting in his lap oh we were laughing and having so much fun.” Ashley then asked, “Do you think daddy would be happy that I’m going to do those commercials?” Brenda lovingly replied, “Your daddy would be so proud of you why he must be looking down from heaven with a great big smile.” Ashley asked, “Some people say if we listen we can hear daddy speaking to us is this true?” Brenda pulled the blanket up across Ashley’s chest as she replied, “Yes your daddy indeed speaks to you in many ways.” Ashley asked, “If I listen carefully can I hear his voice?” Brenda replied, “You can’t hear his voice but you can know when he is speaking to you.” Ashley really curious asked, “How?” Brenda replied as she held Ashley’s hand, “He softly brushes the hair out of your eyes with the wind, at sunrise her greets you with a cheerful hello, on a hot summer day he kisses your face with a cool breeze then on a rainy night as the rain softly lulls you to sleep your daddy says sweet dreams princess.” Ashley then asked, “What is daddy saying right now?” Brenda replied, “With the warmth of your blanket all around you your daddy is giving you a big hug while saying I’ll see you in your dreams.” Ashley asked “Honor bright?” Brenda laughed as she said, “Honor bright every bit of it.” As Ashley drifted off to sleep Brenda gently tucked the blanket around her neck kissed her on the forehead and turned out the light as she quietly left the room.

Chapter 4 - Cute and Bouncy

Monday morning came it was five minutes till eight when Brenda and Ashley arrived at the employees entrance gate of the Universal Studios. Brenda told the guard she was supposed to see Jimmy Cramer. The guard gave her a map with the location of the studio along with a pass giving her unrestricted entry. Brenda then drove her car up to the studio parking lot where both of them got out and went into the studio where a young man was playing an upbeat tune on the piano. Ashley quickly picked up the beat and began a really cute tap dance routine. Jimmy came around the corner and saw Ashley dressed in the same adorable outfit doing that cute tap dance routine. The music stopped as Jimmy came over to her smiling as he warmly said, “Let’s put you on top of the piano and let’s see you do that again.” Jimmy then lifted her off her feet and sat her on top of the piano as he lovingly said “Up se daisy now lets take if from the top.” The pianist began playing as Ashley began the same tap dance routine. Jimmy warmly smiled as he said to Brenda, “She’s so adorable.” Brenda smiled as she agreed, “Isn’t she?”

Jimmy then said, “My uncle has to see this I’ll be right back.” Jimmy hurriedly went to an office in the corner of the studio, picked up the receiver of a phone and dialled a number. Ashley smiled as she said, “He seems pretty excited about something.” The pianist lifted her off the piano and sat her on her feet as he warmly said, “You’ve made his day.” Ashley curiously said, “I thought only God made days.” The pianist laughed and said, “I meant that you’ve made him very happy and now he wants his uncle to see you.”

Mean while with very much excitement Jimmy said into the phone, “Tom you’ve got to see this!” Tom asked, “Can’t this wait I’m in a meeting?” Jimmy still just as excited replied, “This can’t wait you have to come now!” Tom a little irritated said, “Call me in an hour.” Tom more insistent replied, “An hour will be too late you’ve got to see this right now!” Tom now really irritated barked, “This had better be good!!” Jimmy smiled as he said, “You will not be sorry!”

Tom hung up the phone as he said, “Gentlemen I have an emergency at the studio you can wait for me or you can join me something’s come up that needs my immediate attention.” One of the men in the meeting said, “If it’s that important then we’ll join you.” At that everyone in the meeting got up and began walking to the studio which was about a hundred yards away. Jimmy came out of the office and quickly walked over to Ashley and the pianist and said, “When I signal you began playing you do that same routine again.” Jimmy then lifted her up and sat her on top of the piano then went to the entrance of the studio and stood at the entrance.

When he saw his uncle along with the other people with him coming waited until they were about fifty feet away signalled with his hand. The pianist began playing as Ashley began her tap dance routine. Tom along with the other people with him came into the studio and saw Ashley doing her tap dance routine on top of the piano her cute smile those blonde curls bouncing and that adorable outfit did him in. The pianist finished the song as Ashley gave Tom a dimpled smile. Everyone applauded as Tom walked over to Ashley lifting her off the piano into his arms as he said, “That has got to be the most adorable routine that I have ever seen.” Ashley smiled as she cheerfully said, “Oh thank you very much!” Tom then asked, “Tell me what all can you do?” Ashley replied, “I can dance!” Tom said, “Yes and you’re very good at it!” Ashley continued as she played with his tie, “I can sing too!” Tom laughed as he said, “I bet you melt a lot of hearts.” Ashley said as she tickled Tom’s nose with his tie, “I can act too!” Tom let out a laugh as he hugged her then said, “You’re just what I’ve been looking for.” Ashley turned he head slightly to the side as she asked, “Do I get the part?” Tom gently pinched the end of her nose as he replied, “You bet!” Ashley made a cute face as she asked, “Honor bright?” Tom laughed as he replied, “Honor bright!” He continued, “We haven’t been introduced?” Ashley stuck her hand into his coat pocket and pulled out his notepad and flipped it open as she said, “My name is Ashley, what’s yours?” Tom replied, “My name is Thomas Cramer CEO but you can call me Uncle Tom.” Ashley a little curious asked as she flipped through the pages of the little notebook, “What’s a CEO?” Tom replied, “A CEO means chief executive officer which means that I’m responsible for everything that goes on around here.” Ashley’s brow wrinkled as she said, “You must be more important than the President of the United States!” Tom laughed as he said, “No I’m not that important I’m just responsible for everything here at this company.” Ashley a little relieved said, “Oh, then I won’t have to call you Mr. President.” Tom laughed while hugging her as he said, “You can just call me Uncle Tom.” Ashley laughed as she said, “Ok Uncle Tom.”

Jimmy then introduced Brenda, “Tom this is Brenda Harris, Ashley’s mother.” He then introduced Tom. “Brenda this is Tom Cramer not only my uncle but CEO of Little Missy.” Tom said as he shook Brenda’s hand, “I’m very honored to make your acquaintance M’am.” Brenda replied, “I’m the one honored.” Tom winked at Ashley’s dimpled smile then at Brenda and said, “I’ve been looking for an adorable little girl like Ashley to do a series of television commercials advertising our exciting new line of children’s clothing. My nephew Jimmy has been all over southern California looking for the little girl with just the right look for this project.” He squeezed Ashley as he said, “And we have found her.” Brenda’s voice was filled with excitement as she said, “I’m so happy for Ashley this means so much to her.” Tom said as he again squeezed Ashley; “She’s perfect for the part she’s just what I had in mind when I began this project six months ago.”

Ashley asked, “Uncle Tom, do you have a little girl?” Tom replied, “No my wife passed away without giving us any children.” Ashley sadly said, “I’m sorry that your wife died.” Tom said while looking into Ashley’s eyes, “If I had a little girl I hope she would be every bit like you.” Ashley smiled while saying, “My you are nice if I had to look for another daddy I hope he would be as nice as you.” Tom then asked, “When could I possibly meet your father” Ashley replied, “My daddy went to be with Jesus almost two years ago but I still have dreams about him.” Tom said, “My wife went to be with Jesus five years ago and I still dream about her also, she started this company and I took it over when she died.” Ashley then asked“ Do you think my daddy and your wife will see each other in heaven and talk about us?” Tom smiled as he replied, “I bet your daddy and my wife are now best of friends and talk about you all day.”

Tom then said to Brenda as he sat Ashley back on her feet, “Right after my meeting how about the three of us getting together for lunch but first thing on my mind is where did you get such an adorable outfit for your daughter? Brenda replied, “I make all of Ashley’s clothing and yes I would love to have lunch with you.” Tom really surprised, asked, “Like the one Ashley’s wearing?” Brenda replied, “My mother taught me to make clothing when I was a little girl so I make all of Ashley’s clothing myself.” Tom asked, “Can we use this outfit in our first commercial you’ll receive royalties for your designs?” Brenda smiled warmly as she replied, “It has always been a dream of mine for someone to sell my clothing designs in the stores.” Tom excitedly said, “I want Ashley to be the official mascot / model for ‘Little Missy’ whenever any one sees her on the television or her smiling face on the clothing labels and purses I want them to say That’s Little Missy!” Brenda excitedly said, “This is a dream come true not only for Ashley but for me too!” Tom said while hoisting Ashley up into his arms and throwing her high into the air and catching her as she came back down, “Then it’s settled Ashley is our Little Missy we’ll introduce this little adorable outfit in the first commercial ” Brenda was almost in tears as she said, “Oh this is a dream come true for both of us!” Tom smiled as he said, “This is a dream come true for all of us here at Little Missy!” Ashley still smiling and excited from being thrown high into the air said, “Let’s play some more!!” Tom gently pinched Ashley’s nose as he said, “We’ll have plenty of time to play later but now I have a meeting to finish and Jimmy has a commercial to plan.”

Chapter 5 - Hard at Work

After four hours of preparing shooting and several retakes everyone had worked up a healthy appetite. Jimmy looked at his watch and said, “Let’s break for lunch be back at 1:00.” Everyone began leaving the set on his or her way to lunch as Tom came into the studio and walked up to the piano where Ashley and the pianist were talking as the pianist said, “I know a really cute song from a movie I saw a while ago. The pianist played the tune then rehearsed the words with Ashley until she had it down perfect. After Ashley had sung the song Tom said, “Let’s use that song for your next commercial it’s a sure thing, hearts will be melting all over America. Sales will go through the roof and Ashley will be an instant star!” Brenda excitedly said, “I just know that all of her commercials will be as adorable as this one.” Ashley had been working for three weeks now and enjoyed every moment of it meanwhile Brenda and Tom had developed a close friendship and were getting to be closer friends everyday much to the approval of Ashley.

Chapter 6 - Report Card

Four weeks later with four commercials under her hat Ashley was now busy working on the fifth. Jimmy was in a meeting with the screenwriter when a messenger from Tom’s office came and spoke to Jimmy. “Mr. Cramer wants to see you in his office.” Tom asked, “Can this wait this is important?” The messenger replied, “No sir this is more important you have to come now.” Jimmy turned to the screenwriter and said, “Please excuse me I have some important business to attend to I’ll be back later, in the mean time make those changes we spoke about.” Jimmy then left the studio and walked with the messenger to Tom’s office where he found the book keeper Ashley, Brenda and Tom who with a big smile said, “Ashley’s first four commercials are a huge success sales of her first four outfits went through the roof.” Jimmy smiled broadly as he asked, “How much in dollars?” Tom replied, “With the orders as of today, twenty two million dollars in orders, our Little Missy is an instant sensation department stores from Main to California, Washington State to Texas have been calling saying they can’t keep the clothing racks filled with the outfits and as of today there’s a two week delay from the time the orders are placed and their delivery to the stores.” Ashley asked, “Do people really like the outfits?” Tom lifted Ashley off her feet as he replied, “All of those children’s parents want there own little girls to look and to be like you.” Ashley asked, “Do I make you happy?” Tom replied as he warmly hugged her, “You make me happy every day.” Ashley then asked, “Does my mommy make you happy?” Tom replied, “Your mommy makes me very happy also.” Ashley with a voice filled with mischief said, “Well if I make you happy and my mommy makes you happy then marry us and we’ll all be happy together.” Tom and Jimmy both laughed as Brenda was taken off guard and scolded her, “Ashley you shouldn’t, that’s not,” Tom laughed as he interrupted, “I think she’s playing little miss matchmaker.” Brenda shook her finger at Ashley as she laughed with a dimpled smile.

Tom then said to Brenda, “Let’s all get together after work and celebrate the good news.” Brenda accepted, “That would be wonderful.” Tom continued, “Great I’ll pick the two of you up at six thirty.” Tom then instructed the messenger, “We’ll all meet at Captain Jack’s in the ballroom at seven thirty see that everyone gets the word.” The messenger acknowledged, “Yes sir.” Then left the office. Tom pretended to be irritated as he said to Ashley, “You’re going to get me into a lot of trouble.” Ashley tickled Tom’s nose with his tie as she replied, “No I just want you to marry my mommy.” Tom smiled as he asked, “Now why would you want me to marry your mother?” Ashley replied as she tickled Toms nose with his tie, “ So you can be my daddy.” Tom sneezed as Brenda said, “Ashley now look what you did.” Ashley rubbed Tom’s nose with his handkerchief as she said, “God bless you.” Tom said as he put Ashley down, “We had all better get going if we are to finish up today’s shoot before rush hour traffic.” Jimmy commented, “I’ve ordered the screen writers to make a few changes in the script so we’re done for today we’ll pick it up again tomorrow morning.”

Jimmy then took Ashley by the hand as he said, “Hey sweetie pie why don’t we go outside I want to show you a few dance steps for your next commercial.” Ashley always eager to learn new dance steps went with Jimmy, but Jimmy’s real reason was that he knew Tom was falling hard for Brenda and wanted to give them a few minutes of privacy.

Tom looked into Brenda’s eyes as he said, “These past four and half weeks have been the best I’ve had in several years I never dreamed I could ever enjoy coming to work as much as I do now since you and Ashley have come into my life.” Brenda said while looking into Tom’s eyes, “These past few weeks have been the best I’ve known since my husband died I thank you for that and your nephew who had a lot to do with all of this happening.” Tom took Brenda into his arms as he said, “I haven’t been this happy in several years.” Brenda replied, “Me too.” Tom then gently kissed Brenda on the lips just as Ashley came back into the room and saw her mother and Tom kissing, she smiled as she asked, “Ha I caught you, Does this mean that you get to be my daddy?” Tom and Brenda both caught off guard immediately stopped turned and seeing Ashley all wide eyed as both of them laughed. Tom then stooped over as Ashley came running over to him as he picked her up and asked, “Did you catch us going like this.” And then began smothered her little face with kisses as Ashley screamed with laughter while trying to push him away with her hands but Tom just kept kissing her all the more. Meanwhile Brenda was laughing at the fun that Tom and Ashley were having. She then thought to her self, “Tom would be such a good father for Ashley if only he’d just ask I’d marry him in a heart beat”

Chapter 7 - Crashed Date

Ashley heard the clock chime six thirty as the doorbell rang. She instinctively knew It had to be Tom as she ran and opened the door and in one motion she leaped into his arms as he hoisted her high above his head and began playfully shaking her as he asked, “How’s my little princess this evening?” Ashley smiled as she replied, “I’m fine.” Tom then asked, “Where’s your mother?” Ashley smiled as she replied, “ Oh she’s still busy putting on all that smelly stuff.” Tom said, “Oh you must mean perfume.” Ashley then asked, “Do you really like my mommy I saw you kissing her?” Tom replied, “Yes I like your mommy very much.” Ashley turned her head slightly to the side as she asked, “Do you love her?” Tom put his hands on his hips as he asked, “So what if I did?” Ashley’s voice filled with mischief as she said, “Ahmmm I’m telling on you.” She then raised her voice as she said, “Mommy Tom said he mmff…” Tom quickly covered her little mouth with his hand. She giggled as Tom shook his finger at her while saying, “You keep silent young lady,” He then took his hand off her mouth as she again said, “Mommy mmff.” Tom covered Ashley’s mouth again as she once again giggled while he once again shook his finger at her while laughing as he said, “You just let me be the one to tell your mother that I love her.” He took his hand from her mouth as she giggled and then said, “If you don’t tell her I will!” Tom pretended to be irritated as he said, “Girl you can worry the whiskers off a cat.” About that time Brenda came into the living room where Tom and Ashley were playing. Tom almost fell over himself when he saw Brenda in her evening gown, he then put Ashley down as he said to her, “You’re so beautiful!” Brenda’s heart beat faster as Tom walked over taking her in his arms and kissed her. Ashley smiled as she said, “Tom wants to tell you something.” Tom smiled as he said, “I’ll tell her later.” Brenda asked, “Tell me what?” Tom replied, “This is not the time I’ll tell you after dinner.” Brenda’s heart was now racing as she thought to her self, “This could be the night he asks me to marry him of course I’ll say yes.”

At the party, people were sitting around talking, while others were on the dance floor dancing. Tom, Brenda, and Ashley were at their table having just finished with dinner when unnoticed by anyone a lady obviously uninvited was making a big scene at the door until she convinced the doorman to let her in. She walked through the crowd of people and spotted Tom, Brenda and Ashley sitting as their table laughing and talking. Her face became red with anger and jealousy as she quickly walked over to the table and in a fit of controlled anger said to Tom, “Is she your latest affair!” Then looked at Brenda and said in an air of frustration, “I never seem to know what my man is up to one day to the next!!” The lady then left as quickly as she had arrived. Brenda voice was filled with curiosity and irritation as she asked, “Who was that?” Tom replied, “She’s just an old flame but it’s been over for quite a while now.” Brenda not believing it angrily snapped, “It seemed to me as if this so called flame is a four alarm.” Tom snapped, “This four alarm may still be burning for her but not for me and not for a while.” Brenda’ face now red with anger threw her napkin she had been holding on the table as she asked, “Just how long?” Tom a little irritated replied, “Not for a few months.” Brenda asked, “Why didn’t you tell me about her?” Tom replied, “I didn’t tell you about her because it was a very short lived romance and I didn’t think it really mattered.” Brenda said, “It matters to me I bet you’re still seeing her?” Tom barked, “It was a very short lived romance.” Brenda stood up her voice filled with anger as she grabbed Ashley’s hand as she said, “I really loved you but now I’m beginning to think you were just using my daughter and I to make a buck.” Tom stood up as he said, “That’s not fair.“ Brenda pulled Ashley by the hand as she angrily stormed out of the party as the lady who caused the fight was looking on laughing at the scene that had just unfolded.

From across the ballroom Jimmy saw what had just happened came over and sat down across from Tom and said, “Your face is as long as the Golden Gate Bridge, what was all that about?” Tom loosened his tie as he replied, “Vicky crashed the party and made like I was her man cheating on her, Brenda bought it and didn’t believe me when I told her that Vicky was an old flame.” About that time Jimmy’s wife Mary Ann came over and asked, “What was Vicky doing here?” Jimmy replied, “Making trouble for Tom she caused a fight between he and Brenda.” Mary Ann said, “I’ll speak with Brenda and get this straitened out,” She then angrily continued, “Then I’ll have a heart to heart talk with Vicky!” Tom said, “Brenda was pretty angry I hope, “ Mary Ann cut him off as she said, “You leave it up to me I’ll convince Vicky to leave you alone, I’ll file a restraining order if necessary.” Tom said, “I love Brenda and was going to ask her to marry me later tonight.” Mary Ann said, “Your timing was bad but it’s not hopeless you just let me handle it from here and hopefully things will be back to normal between the two of you.”

She then suggested, “Try taking a few days off I’ll call you after I’ve taken care of everything on this end.” Tom then said to Jimmy, “I’m going to spend a few days at my cottage at Big Bear call me when everyone is ready for the next commercial that is if there is a next commercial.” Tom then got up broken hearted and left the party alone.

Chapter 8 - Good Tidings

A few days later Brenda was cleaning the house when the doorbell rang, Ashley thinking it was Tom ran to the door opened it and was greeted by Mary Ann, “Hey Pumpkin is your mother home?” Ashley shouted through the apartment to Brenda, “Mommy there’s a lady to see you.” Brenda came to the door as Mary Ann introduced herself, “Mrs. Harris I’m Mary Ann, Jimmy Cramer’s wife.” Brenda being polite responded, “I’m pleased to make your acquaintance what is this about?” Mary Ann replied, “I heard about what happened last week at the ballroom.” Brenda interrupted Mary Ann and said, “Tom never told me he had a girlfriend.” Mary Ann replied, “He does, you.” Brenda angrily asked, “Then who is that other woman?” Mary Ann replied, “Vicky and Tom shared a very short lived romance after Carolyn’s death as a matter of fact Tom broke up with Vicky several months before he met you.” Brenda snapped, “You’re just saying that to protect Tom and his financial interests.” Mary Ann Now a bit offended snapped, “I assure you the only interest I’m protecting is yours.” Brenda angrily asked, “Then what is all this about Tom being her man?” Mary Ann replied, “Vicky won’t leave Tom alone since they split up she just keeps coming around.” Brenda asked, “Why won’t Tom tell her to leave him alone?” Mary Ann replied, “I took care of that today I’m not only Jimmy’s wife but also the attorney for Little Missy children’s wear I convinced Vicky to leave all of us alone.” Brenda asked, “How can you assure me that she will never cause us any more trouble?” Mary Ann replied, “I told her if she continues to bother any of us I would not only file a restraining order but charges for stalking so this is the last we’ll see or hear of her.” Brenda let out a long sigh and then said, “I’ve been doing some thinking maybe this whole thing is a bad idea.” Mary Ann asked, “What do you mean?” Brenda replied, “Things were moving to fast between Tom and I now I wonder if does he really love me or is he just being nice to make a buck at our expense.” Mary Ann replied, “I assure you Tom loves you so much he’s when he’s visiting us at our home he’s always talking about you.” Brenda still undecided said, “Give me a take a few days to think it over.” Mary Ann said, “Jimmy has shut down the studio the fate of Little Miss rests with you and Tom.”

At that Mary Ann left as Brenda closed the door behind her. Ashley came into the room and asked, “Mommy will we ever see Tom again?” Brenda replied, “I don’t know sweat heart.” Ashley said, “I really like Tom he’s so nice.” Brenda replied, “Being nice is one thing being trustworthy is another.” Ashley took Brenda’s hand as she said, “Tom told me that he loved you I even asked him.” Brenda knelt down in front of Ashley and then said, “He probably just said that because you’re making money for him.” Ashley’s eyes lit up as she said, “Oh no mommy, he really does love you, you know us children know these kind of things.” Brenda smiled as she asked, “Honor bright?” Ashley smiled back as she replied, “Honor bright.” Brenda put her hands on Ashley’s shoulders as she said, “I was so mean to him he’ll probably never speak to me again.” Ashley said as she put her thumbs through imaginary straps on the front of her dress while rocking on her heals, “You just let me take care of that I’ll have you kissing in no time!” Brenda laughed and hugged Ashley and then lovingly said, “Your mommy’s little matchmaker!” Ashley giggled then said, “You love him don’t you?” Brenda replied, “I was hoping he would ask me to marry him.” Ashley said, “I was hoping you would say yes I told him I wanted him to marry us so he can be my daddy.” Brenda gasped as she asked, “You didn’t?” Ashley had a dimpled smile as she said, “Oh yes I did!” Brenda playfully swatted Ashley’s behind as she lovingly said, “You little stinker.” They then both laughed and hugged one another.

Chapter 9 - Reconciliation

Four days later Jimmy phoned Tom he asked, “Tom the advertisers are asking us when we plan to resume making commercials?” Tom asked, “Have you heard from Brenda?” Jimmy replied, “Mary Ann spoke with her a few days ago she thinks she ironed everything out.” Tom regrettably said, “Brenda will probably never speak to me ever again.” Jimmy replied, “You don’t know until you see her again.” Tom regained his old composure back as he said, “Get everyone together Monday, call Brenda and tell her to be at the studio at the regular time.” Jimmy apologetically suggested, “Perhaps it would better if you saw her and tell her yourself.” Tom said, “She was pretty angry at me however for better or for worse I’ll give it a try tomorrow.” Jimmy gently punched him on the shoulder as he said. “That’s the spirit!”

The next day, Brenda was doing laundry when the doorbell rang, Ashley walked to the door opened it and really surprised to see Tom almost shouted as she jumped into his arms, “Tom, we’ve missed you so much.” Tom hugged Ashley as he agreed, “I’ve missed the two of you also.” Brenda heard all the commotion and came into the room as Tom put Ashley down while as Brenda quietly said, “I’m so sorry I should have believed you, Mary Ann came by and cleared everything up I wouldn’t blame you if you never spoke to me again,” Tom interrupted and said, “Never mind all of that is there still a chance for us?” Brenda’s eyes filled with tears as she lunged forward into his embrace as the two kissed for what seemed like eternity while Ashley wagged her head from side to side as she said, “There they go again!!” Tom and Brenda both laughed and stooped down as Ashley embraced the two of them while laughing herself.

Chapter 10 - Back to Normal

The following Monday, everyone met at the studio where Tom announced that production for the commercials would continue. Everyone applauded as Tom dismissed the meeting. Jimmy then came over to Brenda and Ashley and said to Brenda, “I’m so glad things are back to normal that is I gather things are back to normal for the two of you.” Ashley broadly smiled as she replied, “You bet I saw them kissing hugging and more kissing!!” Jimmy laughed as he said, “I guess you could say that’s a yes.” Brenda replied, “I should have believed Tom instead of jumping to conclusions like I did.” Jimmy concluded, “That’s now all water under the bridge let’s all focus on finishing this commercial.” Ashley curiously asked, “What does that’s all water under the bridge mean I don’t see any water or a bridge?” Jimmy gently pinched Ashley’s nose as he said, “That means that everything is ok now it’s time to get on with things that need to get done.” Ashley satisfied with Jimmy’s answer said, “That means that Tom and my mommy will be happy together again and some day Tom will be my daddy.” Jimmy laughed and then said to Brenda, “You have a little match maker on your hands.” Brenda pretending to be flustered as she remarked, “She’s determined to get me married yet!” Ashley smiled as Tom came back into the room she then ran and jumped into his arms. In one motion He picked her up and threw her high into the air catching her as she came back down as he asked?, “Are you ready to get started again?” Ashley excitedly replied, “You bet!!” Tom nodded his head one time as he said, “Good lets get the ball rolling.”

Chapter 11 - The Winds of Change

Two months later with many successful commercials under their belt sales of Little Missy children’s wear were going through the roof so Tom decided he wanted to produce some heart-warming movies with Ashley as the star this would not only be a great way to advertise little missy children’s wear but to introduce Ashley as America’s newest child star that is for all of those who hadn’t figured it out already. So after several meetings Tom went to his office and phoned Jimmy at the studio who was busy with Ashley making the next commercial. Brenda answered the phone and found it was Tom said, “Hi darling how are you doing?” Tom replied, “I’m doing great sweet heart is Jimmy available I need to meet with him?” Brenda said, “Hold on I’ll get him.” Brenda put the phone on hold then went into the studio signalling with her hand that Jimmy had a phone call. Jimmy then left the set as Ashley continued with a cute tap dance routine for her next commercial. In the office Jimmy picked up the phone as Tom on the other end said, “Jimmy I have a great idea come by the office at your earliest convenience” Jimmy said, “We’ll be done with this scene soon I’ll see you in half an hour.” Tom said, “You’ll not be sorry.” Jimmy hung up the phone and when Ashley finished the scene he dismissed the production crew as he said , “Everyone take a break I have a meeting we’ll pick it up later.” Jimmy then went to Tom’s office where Tom cheerfully said as Jimmy took a seat, “Jimmy boy I have the greatest idea since man invented the wheel!” Jimmy asked, “What do you have?” Tom cheerfully replied, “Jimmy boy I want to make some Shirley Temple type of movie commercials with Ashley as the star.” Jimmy taken aback asked, “You what?” Tom continued, “This would serve two purposes first it would be a great way to advertise our latest designs second it would make Ashley an instant star.” Jimmy looked surprised as he said, “That would be great but what about Brenda would she go for it?” Tom replied as he gestured, “There’s no doubt in my mind she’d go for it I’ll speak with her tonight over dinner in the mean time don’t say anything to her or Ashley.” Jimmy smiled as he replied, “Ok boss.”

After Ashley had finished that day’s shooting, Tom went to the studio and saw Tom coming into the studio where she ran and jumped into his arms. In one motion Tom threw her high into the air catching her as she came back down while asking, “Where’s your mother I need to speak to her?” Ashley broadly smiled as she asked, “Are you going to do all that hugging and kissing again!” Tom laughed as he replied, “Perhaps some of that too but I really need to ask her something important.” Ashley voice was full of mischief as she said, “Oh I bet you are going to ask us to marry you.? Tom replied, “Maybe later on but now I need to ask her a very important question concerning you.” Ashley now really curious asked, “Is it something good or bad?” Tom replied as he looked into Ashley’s eyes with excitement on his face, “This is something very good.” Ashley gasped then asked, “What is it?” Tom replied, “I want to ask your mother if we can make some very special commercials that have never been done before.” Ashley jumped in Tom’s arms as she said, “Oh boy!!” Tom tickled her nose as he said, “Let’s go ask your mother.”

Both of them were smiling with excitement written on their faces as they came into the room where Brenda asked, “Now what are the two of you up to?” Ashley replied, “Uncle Tom has something he’d like to ask you.” Brenda smiled as she asked, “Now what could be that good that it takes the both of you?” Tom replied, “I want to know what you think of us making some Shirley Temple kind of movie commercials with Ashley as the star?” Brenda gasped then said, “That would be wonderful!” Tom gestured as he said, “Great this would be a great way to advertise Little Missy Children’s wear.” Ashley smiled as she said, “This is too cool.”

Chapter 12 - The Secret

Several months later they had made several movies commercials with Ashley. Sales of the clothing line were astounding this had been what the audiences were looking for and was a very welcome change from the commercials of the norm. Little Missy was now the top retailer of children’s clothing beating out the competition hands down. Other companies tried to duplicate the outfits but were all unsuccessful there simply wasn’t any substitute for ‘Little Missy’.

Tom Brenda and Ashley were on their way to the theatre when Tom said to Brenda as they were pulling into the parking lot, “Sweetheart after the movie let’s go to dinner I have a proposal that may interest you.” Brenda thinking it was another one of Tom’s adventures replied, “Sure darling I’m sure I’ll like what ever you have in mind for Ashley’s next adventure.” Tom while smiling said, “You’ll love it and I know that Ashley will go head over heals when she hears my proposal.” Brenda smiled as she said “I’m sure we’ll both love it”

As they were walking to the front of the theatre, the crowd saw Ashley, rushed over and were held back by security as many in the crowd were shouting above the excitement and noise for Ashley’s autograph. Many others were accompanied by their own daughters dressed in Little Missy outfits from the two previous movie commercials. Some people from the local newspapers and Television stations were trying to get an interview with Ashley but to no avail the crowd was to big.

After the movie Tom Brenda and Ashley were coming out of the movie theatre and were given a very large round of applause from the audience. People from the newspapers were taking pictures while others were asking for a statement from Ashley who said, “I hope you liked the movie.” One of the people from the local newspaper asked, “How does it feel to be big time star?” Ashley not knowing what to say said, “I don’t know ask my mommy.” The crowd laughed as another one asked, “What are your plans for the future?” Ashley again not knowing what to say said, “Go to school make more commercials and the rest is up to my mommy.” The crowd once again laughed. Tom then said, “I’m sorry to break this up but we have some very important business to attend to, good night.” At that Tom escorted Brenda and Ashley to the parking lot and to their car.

Later after dinner Tom said, “I have a proposal that I hope you’ll like but you have to be at the studio tomorrow morning to see it first hand.” Brenda curiously asked, “Why can’t you tell me now?” Tom smiled as he replied, “You’ll have to see it first hand to understand.” Ashley asked, “Is it something really good?” Tom with a big smile on his face replied, “It is very good.” Brenda smiled as she asked, “What’s up your sleeve?” Tom laughed as he replied, “You’ll find out tomorrow?” Brenda teasingly said, “Ok hot shot I guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow but in the mean time I’ll have a hard time sleeping wondering what your surprise is all about.” Tom said, “I know Ashley will like it.” Ashley jumped as she asked, “Is it something sweet!!” Tom replied, “Yes it is very sweet indeed.” Ashley rubbed her tummy as she said, “Yummy.” The Big Surprise.

The next day Brenda and Ashley arrived at the studio where Tom met them and as usual Ashley ran and jumped into his arms as he threw her high into the air while asking, “How’s my little princess?” Tom then kissed Brenda as Ashley looked on with a dimpled smile as she said, “There they go again!!” Tom and Brenda both laughed at Ashley’s remark. The director then came over and said to Tom, “Mr. Cramer we’re ready for the first scene.” Tom said to Brenda, “You’re the star in this scene come I’ll show you your place.” Brenda really surprised asked, “Oh my goodness what are my lines!?” Tom replied, “Just play it by ear it’ll come to you.” Brenda now really nervous asked, “I hope so why didn’t you tell me about this?” Tom replied, “If I did then it would not be a surprise.” The director then said, “Places Everyone, quiet on the set, ready, roll ‘em!” Tom then turned to Brenda and took her hand while kneeling in front of her then looked at her. Brenda looked totally lost for a second then realized what was taking place as tears began to fill her eyes. Tom began, “Darling I loved you the moment we first met I haven’t been this happy in years but in order for this life of mine to continue with such happiness I humbly with all the love in my heart and soul ask, Brenda will you marry me and bring me such happiness for the rest of our lives?” Brenda’s voice broke as she replied, “Yes!” Ashley totally stunned said, “Oh my goodness!!” as she ran over and embraced the two of them while the rest of the cast and crew cheered. Ashley’s smile beamed as she said; “Now I can really call you daddy!!” Brenda’s eyes were wet with tears of joy as she replied, “Yes you get to call him daddy for ever.” Ashley smiled broadly as she said, “See I told you that you were going to be my daddy some day” Tom and Brenda both hugged her as she asked, “Honor Bright?” Tom and Brenda both in unison kissed her on the cheeks as they replied “Honor Bright.”


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